four hundred and fifty years

Acts 13:20

13:20 four hundred and fifty years. It has been difficult to reconcile this 450 years, which ostensibly seem to cover the period of the judges, with the 480 years given in I Kings 6:1 for the period from the exodus to the beginning of the construction of the temple. A number of suggested harmonizations have been proposed. Many—perhaps most—modern authorities argue that the Greek text should be translated: “And after about the space of four hundred and fifty years, he gave unto them judges until Samuel the prophet.” This would then correspond to the 400 years in Egypt (Acts 7:6) plus 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18) plus about 10 years for the conquest and division of the land (Acts 14:19). On the other hand, if the text is accepted as it stands, one can obtain the 480 years of I Kings 6:1 by subtracting the periods recorded in Judges when the Israelites were out of fellowship with God from the 450 years. These total 111 years, as follows: 8 years in captivity to Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8); 18 years to Moab (Judges 3:14); 20 years to the Canaanites (Judges 4:3); 7 years to Midian (Judges 6:1); 18 years to the Philistines and Ammonites (Judges 10:8); and 40 years to the Philistines (Judges 13:1). This leaves 339 years actually living under the judges’ leadership in fellowship with God. To this number must be added the 40 years in the wilderness, approximately 17 years under Joshua, 40 years under Saul (Acts 13:21), 40 years under David (I Kings 2:11) plus 4 years under Solomon to the beginning of the temple (I Kings 6:1). This totals 480 years, but both the 450 years of Acts 13:20 and the period of conquest under Joshua, assumed at 17 years, are not necessarily exact. This also assumes that Samuel is included in the 450 years of the judges.

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